Senate To Take Necessary Step Toward Rebuilding American Hard Power

‘I’m particularly proud of how the legislation before us will deliver on the priorities of my fellow Kentuckians. In significant ways, the work of rebuilding American hard power begins right at home. It means good-paying manufacturing jobs for hardworking Americans across the country, including Kentucky.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding government funding:

“The task before Congress this week – completing annual appropriations – is important work every year. In fact, it’s among our most basic, fundamental responsibilities.

“But not in decades have the stakes of providing for the common defense been as high as they are right now.

“For the first time since the Cold War, America faces an era defined by great power competition.

“Of course, this is not news. Two straight Presidential administrations have correctly recognized this fact – at least on paper in their national security strategies.

“These documents have recognized that challenges from revisionist authoritarians in Russia and China pose the greatest threat to the endurance of American leadership that has defined world politics and economics for decades.

“Today, we face major adversaries who wish nothing more than to bleed American influence, sap our resolve, torch our credibility, and fill every void we leave behind with a new order built on fear and subjugation.

“And we face terrorists and rogue states committed to help them sow chaos. North Korea is sending thousands of train cars full of ammunition to fuel Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. And Iran’s Houthi proxies are signaling to Russian and Chinese ships that they’ll be permitted to traverse the Red Sea unharmed.

“But it’s not enough to recognize these challenges or name-check them in policy papers. Both the Administration and Congress have to act and invest like we’re willing to meet them.

“And President Biden’s actions undercut any of his administration’s apparent recognition of the grave moment we’re facing.

“For four straight years, the Commander-in-Chief has requested defense budgets that don’t even keep pace with inflation.

“De facto cuts to U.S. military funding do not signal seriousness about out-competing our biggest strategic adversaries. China’s defense, for example, is growing by more than 7% year-over-year!

“And neither did the President’s hand-wringing and delay over equipping Ukraine with the capabilities needed to better defend itself against Russian aggression.

“Frankly, President Biden seems to have a deep-seated discomfort with cultivating and exercising hard power – a necessary, foundational part of the statecraft that protects America and preserves our interests.

“Of course, Congress has a say – and a responsibility. And our work on Fiscal Year 2024 defense appropriations represents a critical down payment. But important requirements will remain unmet even after the needed investments this defense bill will make.

“Republicans recognized the constraints of the budget caps. And we worked hard to ensure that the national security supplemental we passed in the Senate would make further critical investments in our own military and defense industrial capacity.

“Earlier this week, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Aquilino, made the case for passing this supplemental to our House colleagues, saying, ‘any win for Russia… is a win for China,’ and so what we do, quote, ‘supporting the Ukraine problem set also provides a deterrent value’ in the Indo-Pacific.

“Together with full-year appropriations, the supplemental is a serious, urgent, and necessary investment in American hard power. And I will continue to urge the House to take it up and pass it without further delay.

“But as the Senate prepares to finish our work on annual government funding, I’ll once again thank our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for the diligent work required to get to this point. Senator Murray and Senator Collins made a commitment nearly a year ago to restore as much regular order to this process as possible, and to work constructively across the aisle.

“I’m especially grateful to my friend, Susan Collins, whose leadership and skill have continued to improve this legislation on behalf of Senate Republicans at every step of the process.

“And I’m particularly proud of how the legislation before us will deliver on the priorities of my fellow Kentuckians. In significant ways, the work of rebuilding American hard power begins right at home. It means good-paying manufacturing jobs for hardworking Americans across the country, including Kentucky:

“In communities like Stearns and Somerset, where Kentuckians develop cutting-edge tools and technologies that give our servicemembers the upper hand on the battlefield.

“Or Brandenburg, where they produce new armor systems to enhance the next generation of combat equipment.

“Or Louisville and Lexington, where we’re spurring innovation in areas critical to our warfighting capabilities through partnerships with the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

“Of course, funding the government this week also puts more weight behind missions even closer to home. Like our fight against the substance abuse epidemic, which has had a staggering impact in my home state.

“We’re devoting more resources to the Kentucky National Guard to reinforce state and local law enforcement as they combat the flow of illegal drugs literally pouring over our border.

“And we’re directing billions toward states like Kentucky so we can promote long-term recovery, find new ways to treat addiction, and spare more lives from this deadly crisis.

“Through prevention, treatment, and enforcement, we’re taking direct aim at a health crisis that has hollowed out our communities and hit Middle America especially hard.

“Our work is far from finished. But I’m proud of what my Senate colleagues have accomplished to close out the annual appropriations process.

“It’s now time to finish the job.”


Related Issues: Fentanyl, National Security, Appropriations, America's Military